ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Dayton and coach Jim Jabir have a new best day.
Andrea Hoover scored 26 points and the seventh-seeded Flyers (28-6) continued their improbable run in the NCAA Tournament with an 82-66 win over third-seeded Louisville in the regional semifinals on Saturday.
Amber Deane added 15 points and Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Flyers, who won for the 11th time in their last 12 games.
Dayton, which beat No. 2 seed Kentucky in the second round, became just the fourth No. 7 seed to advance to a regional final since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994, and the first since Mississippi in 2007.
”I thought the Kentucky game was the best day,” Jabir said. ”And now I think this is the best day and not just because it’s a trip to the Elite Eight. I think we rose to an occasion.”
Dayton led by a point at halftime. But a 3-pointer from Deane capped an 11-2 run early in the second half that pushed the lead to double digits, and the Flyers never trailed after intermission.
Myisha Hines-Allen scored all 14 of her points in the second half to lead Louisville (27-7).
Dayton will face No. 1 UConn, which routed Texas 105-54, on Monday night.
The Flyers shot 51 percent from the floor and made 26 of their 30 free throws. Hoover was 15 of 15 from the line, becoming the first player with a minimum of 12 attempts to shoot 100 percent from the line.
Coach Jim Jabir ran toward the stands after the final horn sounded, giving praise to the Dayton fans, one of whom shouted ”Who else from Kentucky can we beat,” as the final seconds wound down.
”As the buzzer went off, I couldn’t find enough people to hug,” Hoover said. ”We’ve been working so hard for these goals, and now our program is at new levels.”
The Flyers made 11 3-pointers against the Wildcats. They were just 2 of 10 from behind the arc in this one, but outscored the Cardinals 42-34 in the paint.
Louisville was just 1 of 15 from 3-point range and shot just 31.5 percent for the game.
Jude Schimmel, the Cardinals’ senior floor leader, hit just four of her 23 shots and finished with 11 points.
Hines-Allen picked up two fouls in the game’s first two minutes and sat until intermission. She picked up her fourth foul with more than 8 minutes left and the Cardinals trailing just 58-53.
With Hines-Allen out of the game, the Flyers went on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 15 points.
”It really hurt us,” Hines-Allen said of the fouls before breaking down in tears on the podium. ”It was a selfish part of me, getting two early fouls.”
Dayton capitalized on Hines-Allen’s early foul trouble by going inside to Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova. The 6-foot-4 center from France had eight first-half points, and Dayton used a 13-0 Dayton run to turn an 18-11 deficit into 24-18 lead.
But the Flyers also committed 14 first-half turnovers. They had just five in the second half.
”What I love so much about our team is that we never look at the scoreboard,” said Deane. ”We just play and play as hard as we can.”
Dayton: The Flyers improved to 111-10 over their last 121 games when scoring more than 70 points, and 24-1 this season. Dayton has hit at least one three-point shot in 448 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 2, 2001.
Louisville: Cardinals coach Jeff Walz falls to 20-7 in NCAA Touranment games. His winning percentage among active coaches coming in was second only to UConn’s Geno Auriemma. This was just the third time in 16 games that Louisville has lost an NCAA Tournament game when coming in as a higher seed.
Dayton plays UConn in Monday night’s regional final. Dayton and UConn have played only once, a 78-38 win by the Huskies in 2011.